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Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month kicks off, highlights safety, veterans programs

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(iStock/the_guitar_mann)

WATERFORD, Mich. – Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month kicked off Tuesday with a news conference promoting motorcycle safety at the ABC Harley-Davidson dealership in Waterford.

Michigan Secretary of State Ruth Johnson, who learned how to ride a motorcycle as a teen, rode with other motorcyclists to the event.

“Riding a motorcycle is a thrilling experience, but it’s important to understand the risks and how to safely manage them,” Johnson said.

Johnson, as well as Larry Money, commander of the American Legion Department of Michigan and a motorcyclist; Jay Holly from Foundation 14, a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping combat veterans regain their sense of wholeness and freedom through motorcycling; and veteran Corey Smith, the first recipient of Foundation 14 services; spoke at the conference.

Foundation 14 supplies motorcycles to combat veterans and will modify bikes so that veterans with prosthetics or other physical challenges can still ride.

There are about 489,000 Michigan residents with a motorcycle endorsement on their driver’s license, which is required to legally ride a motorcycle.

Veterans causes were also highlighted during the conference, and Johnson reminded veterans that the Department of State offers programs such as the veterans’ designation on driver’s licenses, veteran and military service license plates, and Operation: Our Troops Count, for those casting ballots overseas.

“Motorcycling is a great activity. It offers independence, camaraderie and community -- all attributes important to the reintegration of veterans into society,” said Money, who rode in with Johnson to the news conference.

Johnson reminded motorists to share the road safely with motorcycles.

Drivers should:

  • Be extra cautious on weekends, when more motorcyclists take to the road.
  • Provide motorcyclists adequate room to maneuver. Follow at least three to four seconds behind them.
  • Look carefully for motorcycles, especially at intersections or when making a left turn, two of the most common locations for vehicle-motorcycle crashes.
  • Allow extra maneuvering room in areas with potholes, pavement transitions and railroad crossings. Motorcyclists may need to slow down, stop or adjust their lane position.
  • Never try to share a lane with a motorcycle. Motorcycles have the same right to lanes as any other vehicle.
  • If a motorcycle is nearby, check your mirrors carefully before changing lanes. Motorcycles may be in your blind spots or difficult to see because of their smaller size.

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